Michael Lee Messer was apparently in a downward spiral after being administratively discharged from the United States Air Force earlier this year.
The 24-year-old was reportedly drunk when he caused a three-car collision on Interstate 10 in February, killing Ivy Michelle Johnson. An evidentiary hearing in the manslaughter case began this week, Arizona Range News reports.
Messer was headed east on I-10 in Cochise County when he rear-ended two cars about midnight on Feb. 25. Johnson, the driver of one of the cars, was transported to University Medical Center in Tucson, but passed away later that day.
Sadly, Johnson was en route to her brother's funeral in Willcox at the time of the accident. Johnson's passengers and the driver of the third vehicle were not hurt.
Messer was arrested in March following a long investigation by Cochise County. He's been charged with a slew of crimes including manslaughter.
Any person who recklessly kills someone while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is guilty of manslaughter under Arizona law. Messer is facing up to 21 years in prison if convicted.
In addition to the manslaughter charge, Messer is facing three DUI charges. That's because Arizona has three categories of DUI infractions: DUI, extreme DUI, and super extreme DUI.
A BAC of 0.08 to 0.1499 percent will get you a standard DUI charge. An extreme DUI requires a BAC of 0.15 to 0.199 percent. A super extreme DUI, on the other hand, is for those with a BAC of 0.20 percent or greater.
If convicted of super extreme DUI alone, Messer will probably face a minimum sentence of 45 days in jail and a fine of $2,750.
- Hearing set for suspect in death of Ivy Johnson (Arizona Range News)
- Voluntary Manslaughter Overview (FindLaw)
- Felony DUI (FindLaw)
- Gas Thief Catches His Truck, Himself on Fire; Crashes Into House (FindLaw's Phoenix DUI Blog)